The decision between burial and cremation is a personal one but it carries many financial implications, with price tags that can differ by thousands of dollars. In this article by Nhada Larkin from Adelaide Now, a news organization in Australia, the same questions are asked with the same considerations here in the U.S.
No matter where you are in the world, have a conversation before there’s a death to avoid stress at a time of grief, save money and create a meaningful, memorable good goodbye. (Note – the dollars referenced in this story are Australian dollars. The spelling is also Australian.)
Costs a factor in funeral planning
The decision between burial and cremation is a personal one but it carries many financial implications, with price tags that can differ by thousands of dollars.
President of the Australian Funeral Directors Association Bernardine Brierty says about 70 per cent of funerals are now cremations – but it is not a uniform trend, with many regional areas and large sections of metropolitan centres still favouring traditional burials.
This can be simply due to the availability of land, or for more personal religious and cultural reasons.
“I think people see cremation as perhaps a little less emotional because they’re not watching the coffin being placed in the ground – but there is a financial element to it,” Brierty says.
She says in her home state of Western Australia cremation can cost less than $1000, compared to closer to $2000 for a lawn grave.
“But the same grave in a Melbourne cemetery might be three times that,” Brierty says.
The president of the Queensland division of the Australian Funeral Directors Association, Doris Zagdanski, says at a major Queensland cemetery and crematorium cremation fees start from $517, while grave prices start from $2700 but can go as high as $7500.
The chief executive of South Australia’s Centennial Park Cemetery Bryan Elliott says limited tenure on grave and memorial sites in SA means burial and cremation costs there are generally cheaper compared to New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Elliott says cremation fees in SA start from less than $400, with memorial and plaque costs adding from another $1000.
Traditional burials, in contrast, include a digging fee – starting from about $1375 at Centennial Park – and a 50-year licence for a burial site ranging from $3245 to $4180.
Funeral, headstone and inscription costs are additional.
“Whatever your choice, it’s important to plan ahead and speak with your family and friends to ensure they can carry out your wishes,” Elliott says.
“This will ensure they are not left to make important decisions at a time when they are dealing with their own grief.”
Chief executive of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park George Passas says with land in short supply in metropolitan Sydney there is upward pressure on land plot prices, but the cultural and religious dynamics of cities like Sydney and Melbourne mean there will always be demand for traditional burial sites.
“And cremations are relatively cheap and getting cheaper because there’s huge excess capacity in the marketplace,” Passas says.
Cremation fees at the memorial park are just under $900, with a memorial starting from $1500.
However, some families will buy a garden plot for the ashes and this can cost as much as $25,000, he says.
Prices for a traditional burial site start at $4500 but can be as high as $15,000.
However, Passas says the memorial park does cater to economically disadvantaged families.
“We recognise that families, through circumstance, experience times of bad luck in their lives,” he says.
“We do consider family needs and we do provide some relief.”